Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District, Defiance
KIMBERLY A. WILLIAMSON, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
BUREAU OF MOTOR VEHICLES, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE. STATE OF OHIO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
KIMBERLY A. WILLIAMSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
from Defiance Municipal Court Trial Court Nos. CI1700049 and
A. Hill, II for Appellant.
L. Slade for Appellee.
Defendant-appellant, Kimberly A. Williamson
("Williamson"), appeals the March 7, 2017 judgment
entry of the Defiance Municipal Court in case number
TRC1605231 convicting her of operating a motor vehicle while
under the influence of alcohol or drugs of abuse
("OVI"), a marked-lanes violation, and an
expired-tags violation after her motion to suppress evidence
was denied. Williamson also appeals the February 22, 2017
judgment entry of the Defiance Municipal Court in case number
CI1700049 denying her appeal of an administrative license
suspension ("ALS") following her OVI arrest. We
On November 5, 2016, at approximately 1:14 a.m., Ohio State
Highway Patrol Trooper Matthew J. Gardner ("Trooper
Gardner") initiated a traffic stop of the vehicle
operated by Williamson after Trooper Gardner observed
Williamson commit marked-lanes violations while travelling on
State Route 281 in Defiance County. (Feb. 10, 2017 Tr. at
14-15). After Trooper Gardner stopped Williamson, he detected
that her vehicle's registration was expired.
(Id. at 15). Following Williamson's refusal to
submit to chemical testing to determine her level of
intoxication, she was arrested and charged with OVI in
violation of R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(a), a first-degree
misdemeanor, operating a vehicle with an expired registration
in violation of R.C. 4503.11, a fourth-degree misdemeanor,
and the failure to drive within the marked lanes in violation
of R.C. 4511.33, a minor misdemeanor. (Case No. TRC1605231
Doc. No. 1). Because Williamson refused chemical testing, her
license was administratively suspended. (Case No. TRC1605231
Doc. No. 2).
On November 9, 2016, Williamson appeared and entered pleas of
not guilty. (Case No. TRC1605231 Doc. No. 3). On January 20,
2017, Williamson filed a motion to suppress evidence arguing
that Trooper Gardner lacked a reasonable, articulable
suspicion to believe that she committed a marked-lanes
violation. (Case No. TRC1605231 Doc. No. 17). That same day,
Williamson appealed her ALS. (Case No. CI1700049 Doc. No. 1).
After a hearing on February 22, 2017, the trial court denied
Williamson's motion to suppress evidence. (Case No.
TRC1605231 Doc. No. 20). Because the trial court denied
Williamson's motion to suppress evidence after concluding
that Trooper Gardner had a reasonable, articulable suspicion
to believe that she committed a marked-lanes violation, the
trial court denied Williamson's ALS appeal. (Case No.
CI1700049 Doc. No. 4).
On March 7, 2017, a change-of-plea hearing was held. (Mar. 7,
2017 Tr. at 35); (Case No. TRC1605231 Doc. No. 22). Pursuant
to a negotiated plea agreement, Williamson withdrew her pleas
of not guilty and entered no-contest pleas to the charges.
(Id.); (Id.). The trial court accepted
Williamson's no-contest pleas, found her guilty, and
sentenced her based on the joint-sentencing recommendation of
the parties. (Id. at 40-41); (Case No. TRC1605231A
Doc. No. 22); (Case No. TRC1605231B Doc. No. 1); (Case No.
TRC1605231C Doc. No. 1).The trial court sentenced Williamson to
180 days in jail, suspended 170 of those days, and ordered
her to pay a $750 fine as to the OVI charge, to pay a $25
fine as to the marked-lanes charge, and to pay court costs as
to the expired-tags charge. (Id. at 40-41);
(Id.); (Id.); (Id.).
Williamson filed notices of appeal on March 24, 2017 in case
number TRC1605231 and case number CI1700049. (Case No.
TRC1605231 Doc. No. 25); (Case No. CI1700049. Doc. No. 5).
Because the outcome of Williamson's ALS appeal is
contingent on our disposition of Williamson's appeal in
her traffic case, the cases were consolidated. Williamson
raises one assignment of error for our review.
Trial Court Erred in Failing to Suppress Evidence, and
Denying Appellant's Administrative License Suspension
Appeal, as the Standard of Reasonable Articulable Suspicion
Required for the Traffic Stop Was Not Met.
In her assignment of error, Williamson argues that the trial
court erred by denying her motion to suppress evidence. In
particular, she argues that the trial court erred by
concluding that Trooper Gardner had a reasonable, articulable
suspicion to believe that she committed a marked-lanes
violation. Because she argues that Trooper Gardner lacked a
reasonable, articulable suspicion to believe that she
committed a marked-lanes violation, Williamson also contends
that the trial court erred by denying her ALS appeal.
A review of the denial of a motion to suppress involves mixed
questions of law and fact. State v. Burnside, 100
Ohio St.3d 152, 2003-Ohio-5372, ¶ 8. At a suppression
hearing, the trial court assumes the role of trier of fact
and, as such, is in the best position to evaluate the
evidence and the credibility of witnesses. Id. See also
State v. Carter, 72 Ohio St.3d 545, 552 (1995). When
reviewing a ruling on a motion to suppress, "an
appellate court must accept the trial court's findings of
fact if they are supported by competent, credible
evidence." Burnside at ¶ 8, citing
State v. Fanning, 1 Ohio St.3d 19 (1982). With
respect to the trial court's conclusions of law, however,
our standard of review is de novo, and we must independently
determine whether the facts satisfy the applicable legal
standard. Id., citing State v. McNamara,
124 Ohio App.3d 706 (4th Dist.1997).
"[I]n order to constitutionally stop a vehicle, an
officer must, at a minimum, have either: (1) a reasonable
suspicion, supported by specific and articulable facts, that
criminal behavior has occurred, is occurring, or is imminent;
or (2) a reasonable suspicion, supported by specific and
articulable facts, that the vehicle should be stopped in the
interests of public safety." State v. Anthony,
3d Dist. Seneca No. 13-09-26, 2009-Ohio-6717, ¶ 10,
citing State v. Moore, 3d Dist. Marion No. 9-07-60,
2008-Ohio-2407, ¶ 10, citing State v. Andrews,
3d Dist. Auglaize No. 2-07-30, 2008-Ohio-625, ¶ 8,
citing State v. Chatton,11 Ohio ...